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HEART Trainees Fleeced - Employee on the run after selling foreign assignments

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 4:00 AMErica Virtue

A DORM warden employed to the HEART College of Hospitality Services, better known as the Runaway Bay HEART Academy, is now being sought by the police after students at the state-run institution were allegedly fleeced of close to a million dollars in a job-placement scam.

Reports reaching The Gleaner are that the woman collected the money from the students on the basis that she would get them jobs as trainee chefs and bartenders on ships after they completed their training.

Desperate for employment, the students reportedly paid as much as $100,000 to be placed on ships. But to date, they remain jobless and efforts to recover their money have been unsuccessful.

"People trust her because she is a staff at HEART and we know that HEART is always helping people to get work overseas. So that's why we trust her that much," said one student.

"When we try to contact her, she is always on the hideout, and leaving news that she is not there. She even told people that she's in the hospital when she was at work.

"Mi vex, and my family is cut up because when I told them that I am certified and a staff was going to send me on the ship programme, they gather money from all around, put it together to make up the fee. This is scamming!" added the student.

Principal of the institution, Dr Janet Dyer, told The Gleaner that she is aware of the complaints made against the dorm warden.

"I am aware of the allegations against the employee. I can tell you that I have received two letters from affected students about three weeks ago. I have reported the matter to HEART's office in Kingston and the matter is with the senior director of human resources," said Dyer.

According to Dyer, following the written complaints, a verbal complaint was made involving a $100,000 loan to the dorm warden.

"Last week, a parent also reported that $100,000 was owed to a trainee. The mother, brother and trainee, as well as the police, are involved. The police have said it is a civil matter because the money was loaned voluntarily," explained Dyer.

After the matter was reported to HEART's head office and the police, the dorm warden submitted a medical certificate for 10 days' sick leave that ended last week.

Senior director for human resources at HEART, Errol Holmes, told The Gleaner that he has heard of police involvement in the matter.

"The developments have been reported to me. We have not been able to have a meeting, as she has not resumed her position subsequent to her sick leave. She should have resumed ... but she has not turned up for work, and the other matters involving the police have been verbally indicated to me," said Holmes.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com